Making Sweet Tea

Do you know what this is? Here’s a hint: It’s used for making sweet tea.

sweet tea

Grocery Store Tea

Making tea nowadays is sure a lot different than it used to be! Well, I don’t actually “make” tea anymore. I’ve fallen into the easy task of picking up a gallon of tea at the grocery store.

Our favorite tea is the Great Value brand from Walmart. We like the zero-calorie version and add fresh lemon when we fill our glasses.

The Great Value brand is clearer than Milo or other brands that we have tried, but it always seems hard to find at Walmart!

Tea Ball

All during my childhood years, the only way you got tea was to make it. Tea came in boxes of loose tea leaves. Lipton was the chosen brand.

The item in the photo is a tea ball. It belonged to my grandmother or mother, they both used one. It used to have a little chain so you could hang it on the side of the pan that you made tea in.

Every household had a pan that was used for making tea. Most of the time, you didn’t use it for anything else. It was a “tea pan.” It was the same as having a skillet that you made cornbread in… didn’t use it for anything else or it messed it up and your cornbread would stick!

The top of the tea ball unscrewed and you put the loose leaves in the ball and tightened it back. You would drop the ball in a pan and water and bring it to a boil. Set the pan off the stove after it came to a boil and let it sit there for a while and steep.

Sometimes you would just have to boil it for a few minutes and go ahead and take it up if you were pressed for time. The concentrated tea would then be poured into a tea pitcher.

The “tea pitcher” wasn’t used for anything else in the kitchen except for tea! It was about a half-gallon size. We probably put about a cup of sugar into a half-gallon of tea.

We all grew up on sweet tea! Baby bottles were filled with sweet tea back then.

Boiling Loose Tea Leaves

If you couldn’t locate the tea ball, but still needed sweet tea, we would pour the loose tea right in the pan of water and boil the leaves.

Then the boiled tea would be poured into the tea pitcher using a tea strainer. Also, you didn’t use the tea strainer for anything but straining the tea.

When teabags took the place of loose tea, the tea ball fell by the wayside. But occasionally a teabag would tear open during the boiling process and you still had to rely on the tea strainer.

4-H Recipe Box

During 4-H at school, we always had several projects going on throughout the year. One was a recipe box.

Mine was a little metal file box in an ugly dark green. We had to write down recipes that we actually made at home that our families ate.

I think making tea was the first thing that I put in that box! Of course, there was a recipe for cornbread also.

Now you have to know that I was making cornbread and some vegetables long before hitting junior high or even middle school! I think I even had a recipe for potato salad…..not bad for a kid that had to dig potatoes out of the ground in the garden and gather eggs from underneath a chicken!

I can see asking my grandchildren now to run out to the garden and pick enough butterbeans for supper….they wouldn’t know how to identify them!

Sometimes I like to look at what my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook (1950) has to say about recipes. Here’s what I read today about tea…who knew?

betty crocker cookbook
1950s betty crocker picture cookbook

Betty Crocker – Tea

Three kinds of tea:

Black Tea from India, Ceylon, Java, and Sumatra. The leaves are first fermented, then heated, and dried.

Green Tea from China and Japan. The leaves are not fermented. “Gunpowder” is a type of green tea.

Orange Pekoe is not a kind of tea. It refers to the size of the tea leaf. “Pekoe” indicates a larger leaf than “orange” pekoe.

Teabags of parchment or cloth are convenient for making one or two cups of tea. It is more economical to buy tea in bulk.

Buy tea in small amounts. It loses flavor in long storage. One pound yields from 150 to 200 cups. Unless one serves a great deal of tea, 1/4 lb. is enough to buy at a time. Keep tea in an airtight container.

Thank you, Betty Crocker!

We learn so much more from Betty Crocker than just preparing one of her recipes!

Life is full of conveniences, isn’t it. I don’t miss the old days of making sweet tea, or unsweet as far as that goes. My husband is a diabetic so we try to cut out as much sugar as we can. Iced tea is still a standard at lunch or supper meals at our house.

sweet tea with lemon

Are you a tea drinker? Leave us a comment and tell us how you make your tea!


Sweet Tea & Sunshine

Were you raised on sweet tea and sunshine? Well if you are from the South like me, most likely you were)))

Reduced Sugar Cheesecake

Boiled Peanuts in the Crockpot

Chicken & Dumplings

Copycat Suzy Q’s Chocolate Snack Cake

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